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Albums I like a lot: Part II - 100%

JetMeestard, August 21st, 2021
Written based on this version: 2015, Digital, Independent

Stoner doom’s always been a hit or miss genre for me. On one hand, it has a vibe and energy that can scarcely be matched by other styles, on the other you can only hear so many bands rip off Sabbath riffs before you get bored. As a whole it’s a very single minded style that rarely goes beyond being heavy and “weed lmao”. And I say rarely because Elder exists. While their earliest work falls in that category (more specifically their self-titled), they’ve always had a unique flavour to them. Ever since Dead Roots Stirring they’ve added these subtle psychedelic and at times progressive touches that helped them stand out from the rest of the bands in the genre. Their third outing, Lore stands out for being the perfect marriage of psych and stoner doom, and has cemented itself as my favourite album in the genre, and by extension the band’s catalogue.

From the very first few seconds of “Compendium” one can immediately see that Elder is not your typical stoner doom band. The way they play with dynamics throughout the album is unmatched, creating these long winding songs that manage to remain unpredictable throughout their massive runtimes. There is nary a second that goes to waste, with every riff being used to its fullest extent before the band moves to a different section that pushes the track forward. The leads are a highlight here, since there’s plenty spread out throughout the album, and despite their varying lengths they all manage to stick out in their own way. “Legend” for example has a slew of excellent leads sprinkled in, and there’s not a single one that I’d say was an afterthought, with every note falling perfectly into place. The psych influences that permeate the album cannot go unmentioned either, seeing as they’re one of the band’s defining characteristics. They add a lot of flavour to the tracks and help balance out the more traditional riffing that serves as a base for the rest of the band to build upon. The title track, which serves as the album’s centerpiece is full of them, and uses them to break up the monotony that could stem from a bunch of riffs being strung together. The entire album in general sounds like a journey through sweeping vistas such as the one pictured on the album cover.

The production on here is excellent, and is arguably one of this album’s most important elements. It’s so beautifully bright and full, and possesses this vibrant energy that is nowhere to be found in the genre. Everything is crystal clear without lacking in power. The guitar sound in particular is immaculate, and it maintains its fullness regardless of whether it plays a doom riff or a woozy psych section. The drums are appropriately punchy and help spice the riffs up with some interesting patterns spread throughout. The mixing is on a similar level, with everything being perfectly audible, with the exception of the vocals, which are a bit further back and help enhance the adventurous feel of the album. As a whole, this production is the glue that holds all these different pieces together and brings them together in a cohesive manner.

The album’s lyrics detail a journey of self-discovery, with vocalist Nick DiSalvo singing about a nameless traveler’s journey to finding themselves, and by extension, inner peace. They’re very well written and the way they’re performed fits well, despite Nick’s voice being arguably the band’s least remarkable characteristic. He utilises his range effectively, with his performance having a more ethereal presence over the music instead of being in-your-face constantly. He’s like a spiritual guide during this great trek through one’s self and helping them reach their destination through the metaphorical peaks and valleys that exist within us.

Lore is a journey unlike any other. It breaks the mold of the genre it comes from and creates something completely new that sets Elder apart not only from their contemporaries, but stoner doom in general. Not only did the band think outside of the box for this one, they tore the box up and threw it in the trash and decided to make a new one altogether. Even years after having listened to it, I still haven’t found anything that quite scratches the same itch, and to be honest I don’t believe I’ll ever find anything quite like it.

Highlights: Compendium, Lore, Spirit At Aphelion

Elder? I ardly knew er! - 89%

caspian, July 21st, 2020

Explosions in the Sky meets Pelican? Kyuss covering an Isis cover of a Rush tune? Elder's Lore opens up a lot of almost there comparisons, all kinda close, none really hitting the nail on the head. Post rock played with stoner doom instrumentation?

Autistically defining EXACTLY what a band is is a fun pasttime that seperates us from the normies, but moving on, it's a fun album. It's big and warm and fuzzy while fairly effortlessly nailing some really big, crunching crecendos. It's your dad who feels bad for walking out on your mum years ago, so when you go to his place it's just sweets and soft drinks and video games for the whole weekend. I feel the album artwork sums up the album pretty well- this isn't some austere, grim, restrained music, it's not some boring as shiiiiiit music-for-adults thing, it's big and colourful and pretty and considering the long ass songs very accessible.

I recently put this one on when having a few drinks with friends, and i think the accessible-but-still-great thing shone through there. Perfectly decent background music, with the five of us all going quiet when the title track's glorious, just absolutely obliterating, Isis-ish-with-more-interesting-guitar-lines crescendo started really roaring through. And it is a pretty amazing moment, an almost kraut rocky build up, a huge doomy pound, it goes through a lot of phases and they're all really really good.

So yeah, it is a fun album, I think there's things to critique if I'm being picky, but I have to be fairly picky. A few of the transitions are fairly awkward, basically just two random riffs slapped together; I'm not saying this is always a bad thing, it doesn't have to be super smooth. You just get the feeling that sometimes the dudes had no idea where to take a tune so smashed two things together and called it a day. The vocals also a bit weak, important to song structure and all that, just a bit forced, tendency for the same few vocal lines, you can tell that the guy is a guitarist first and foremost. Or bassist? No idea tbh. Finally, based on how well they execute the one really quiet moment on the album, you can't help but think there could be a tiny bit more of that, just a bit of extra dynamic colour to add a bit more variety to the canvas, yknow?

Overall I'm not inclined to say this is the most amazing album I've ever heard but it is very good, verging on great, and it'll cop a hammering when summer comes along in a few months, particularly the pure dopamine to the eyeballs that is the title track. I feel like their next album, Reflections, is a bit better, but this is still well worth getting; Elder are really in a league on their own as far as stoner metal goes these days.

Lore: “A Golden Light, An Earthly Toil” - 100%

Kaustab, May 16th, 2020

“Lore” might be the magnum opus of Elder’s colourful yet growing career, and it's needless to say that what they have done here isn’t any short of a miracle. Psychedelic/stoner music was never meant to sound this way! Despite that, Elder have made it that way; they’ve forged in fire almost an entirely new genre of their own. This, however, began with their 2011 release “Dead Roots Stirring”, which was a spark of creativity at that time, and made their stance as kind of rule-breakers of the genre. Elder is the band which brought stoner music to a progressive front.

Over the years, Elder have matured immensely, and they’re not afraid of experimenting with new colours in their music. But the true zenith of their career was arguably reached in 2015, when they came out with “Lore” – a masterpiece of doom metal, and I would even venture out to say – a masterpiece of music in general.

Just take a look at that artwork! It’s so incredible… I’m genuinely out of words for it. All I can safely say is that it encapsulates the music in this album PERFECTLY! The melodies in “Lore” have life in it; the moment you start listening, you know that it is growing from a sprout into something miraculous! While listening, you can feel that the music here is going somewhere, and it’s taking you along with it! “Lore” is a beautiful collection of heavy, vibrant, colourful, and dynamic music.

They further expand on this miracle of an idea by introducing completely new textures and intricacies in each song. For instance, the title track is unique and really stands out from the rest as it marvelously executes a mood drift about halfway through the song, by instilling “psychedelic silence” and calm of sorts. That manages to transport our being from here towards the path of transcendence. Everything that happens in this song from this point onwards (beginning with a slow crescendo) is pure excellence. Likewise, the opening tracks “Compendium” and “Legend” are wonderfully crafted pieces of music (the mid-sections in each of these two songs manage to blow my mind away every single time).

The amount of incredible riffs in this album is just mind-bogglingly insane! One could easily just pick any three or four of these riffs and make a good album out of that by reiterating it introducing subtleties… but instead, Elder decided to make their albums an exorbitant cascade of great riffs! And there are equally incredible guitar solos too, evenly spread out across the duration of this one-hour marvel.

The fourth song “Deadweight” does a good job of slowly droning out all the burdens out of us, in preparation for the finale. Even the finale itself, “Spirit at Aphelion”, starts mellow. It proceeds quite normally (even “normal” by Elder’s standards is actually a stunner) for a few minutes, mildly hinting at the terminus. But after an epic solo, Elder goes in for the kill with a riff that you just CAN’T resist the urge of headbanging to! The outro riff though, is a pure gem. It is beyond my ability to summarise it through words. All I can say is that Lore is an album that starts in the best possible way, ends in the most perfect way, and does incredible things to you in between those two points!

Elder’s “Lore” is a golden masterpiece of music. Listening to it gives me the feeling that I can fly – that I am a being capable of wonder too. Lore is an avalanche of awe-inspiring art thrown straight at us from the majestic heavens. Cherish it.

Elder, the Rush of doom metal - 100%

ZepFan, March 14th, 2017

About a month ago, I just finished a two year LDS Church mission to Minnesota. During those two years, missionaries are not allowed to listen to ANY popular music whether on the radio, CD's or whatever. However, one day in St. Paul was an amazing day because I heard the most glorious thing over the PA. My mission companion and I were at a small record store in St. Paul about four or five blocks from our apartment one day. I kind of had to persuade him a bit to go but he had almost as much fun as I did. While flipping through some records, a complex riff structure poured out of the speakers. It instantly caught my attention and I listened with awe. I couldn't believe how heavy but also complex it was. Then the song went straight into a gnarlier riff and I was totally blown off my feet. I marched straight to the front desk and asked what this song was. The guy told me it was Compendium, the first track off the latest album by Boston's Elder. ELDER?!?!?! THIS COMPLEX?!?!?! I thought the guy was joking with me at first until he showed me the album art. After nine months time, I was finally able to listen to the album in full and I was dumbfounded by how much Elder have grown as a band

Their last album Dead Roots Stirring was a lot more complex than its predecessor, but I don't think ANYONE saw this one coming. Nick DiSalvo and the boys just absolutely TEAR through some the most complex doom metal since Confessor's Condemned. But when I say complex, I don't mean like shredding riffs that melt your face, but more like the complexity of a Rush or Yes record. Doom is a genre that can be very tricky to experiment in, but Elder have broken the wall down with a battering ram of heaviness unlike anything done in a while. They stay heavy on this record but they don't bludgeon the listener with walls of earsplitting feedback worship *cough *cough Electric Wizard. Nick, Jack and Matt just unleash a barrage of primordial heaviness that never gets dull.

Lore is definitely an album that has the near perfect amount of peaks and valleys that transport you through space, time and everything in between. Compendium is by far my favorite track and a perfect one to introduce to people getting into heavy music. The title track is also a stand out for me due to the psychedelic drifting that takes place around minute number six. For some odd reason that I think is totally rad is that this spacey interlude made me think of Radiohead's Tree Fingers and Solstafir's Otta. What doom band can make someone think of ancient battles atop icy plateaus and Kid A at the same time?! Certainly not Bell Witch or Sleep that's for sure! Spirit at Apehlion is also a worthy closer that features a wonderful Sword esque riff that will stick in your brain for days to come. The fact that only three human beings and not ten made this record is also a marvel in and of itself.

Elder have really stepped up their game on Lore. To me, this is almost like the Caress of Steel of their career in that it expands their musical technicality but also shows that they will not comprise their heavy guitar riffs, mountain shaking bass and galloping drum beats. Elder have a lot of good things to look forward to in the future and I'm genuinely excited for the next slab of prog doom. Thank you to the powers that be that introduced me to this album on that fateful day in St. Paul in my white tshirt and black name tag. Ironic that a male missionary's title is Elder. Maybe it was meant to be....

I AM COMPENDIUM! - 95%

RichardDeBenthall, August 25th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Stickman Records (Cardboard sleeve)

I was first introduced to Elder by my stoner friend Dave. He was ranting and raving in the car about some band from the states who were gonna take the world by storm because they'd just released a near perfect album. Dave did this sort of thing all the time, he loves his stoner rock almost as much as he loves smoking. I sort of nodded and played along at the time but I wasn't really big into the genre. Either way, he persuaded me to take his CD copy and just sit with it for a while. I agreed and thought "Yeah man, it's pretty good".

Jump forward about a year, I've started playing bass in a band and thought "Stoner rock has some groovy bass lines, what have I got on my ipod?". I whack this on whilst waiting for the bus home from work, trying to search for good bass lines. By the time I got home, I had a new favourite record.

The album is a literal journey through time. Across deserts, through deep dark forests, by the shore of the sea and eventually up into the heavens and beauty of the cosmos. The album starts with a jangly, almost Bluegrass(y) guitar part that seems very much to reflect Brent Hinds guitar work in Mastodon, as another reviewer has duly noted. Within 10-20 seconds this riff has exploded into furious drumming and distortion, jumping and jarring from each note to the next. Like being thrown into a the curvature of a biblical wave.

As the opener, Compendium, progresses it surprises me with its twists and turns, moving into a gorgeous clean section at around the 4:24 mark really letting Nick Di Salvo (Guitarist/Vocalist) show off his ingenuity. Following this, the song moves back into groovy, psychedelic riffage with another amazing quieter section which Nick shows off some impressive harmonic work at around the 7:15 mark which then has a marked return to jangly leitmotif that we first hear at the beginning of the track.

In a way Compendium acts as a perfect capture for this album, covering all of the points that the later songs will then go on, with heavier moments on Lore and Deadweight and decidedly calmer/quieter affairs with Legend and Spirit At Aphelion. There are also a few key highlight moments of the album for me, notably the first few minutes of Legend, a truly stunning clean break section in the middle of Lore and the entirety of Spirit of Aphelion.

Musically it is a departure from their previous works, focusing far more on the progressive, post rock elements that were littered throughout their early releases. Gone are the droney, bassy, Sleep inspired riffs. Instead you have a far fresher sound which really sounds like a band coming into their own.

This album has probably been my most listened album of 2016 (a year late I know) and I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being one of the most listened albums of my twenties. The only limitations on the album are in my opinion Nick Di Salvo's vocals, which I feel are often a little uninspired. Having said that, I still end up humming the vocal lines back to myself so I guess they can't be that bad. But the focus on this album is the music. This album could have been an instrumental and it would still be a +90% score. Listen to this album, you will not regret it.

Hold on to your butts, Elder went prog on us - 97%

jczik, August 22nd, 2015

Before "Lore" I saw Elder as a great run-of-the-mill stoner metal band. That's not negative or anything, it's just that they mastered the simple, straightforward heaviness that is stoner metal in a variety of songs. I guess that's why so many fans unapologetically love them. This growing cult grew the hype of "Lore" more, giving them much more attention than before. No pressure, right? I think it's fair to say that many of us were hoping for a wonderful and sludgy sequel to "Dead Roots Stirring".

That's not exactly what they did.

Don't get me wrong; "Lore" is a fantastic example of the essence of stoner metal, but there's so much more there now. Without sacrificing any part of their identity, Elder added prog elements and showed off what they're capable of doing. The result is arguably one of the best albums of 2015.

The guitars remain heavy and tastefully overdriven, but there's a new chime to them that wasn't in "Dead Roots Stirring". Riffs are more complex and licks are more technically demanding. The bass growls and moans beautifully in the foundation of the band. The drums are hard hitting and still sound natural. The whole package envelops you in a sludgy, yet still clean, world in which Elder takes your hand and guides you through. They're a band whose sum is greater than its parts. That's not to undermine each one's individual talents, more so that they feed off one another better than most.

When you start the album with "Compendium", you're welcomed by a kind of folky jingle with the higher strings that you wouldn't have expected. It's as if Nick DiSalvo was listening carefully to Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher's guitarwork with Mastodon. While it strays away from the blunt, low fuzz in "Dead Roots Stirring", it's not unpleasant. You're pleasantly surprised and await more. As the song progresses you find that familiar Elder sound of loud, slow, headbang-inducing drums and a layer of thick, fuzzy bass that covers the track in a beautiful low rumble. Nick's voice isn't anything special, in fact I don't think he's close to being any of the great stoner metal vocalists. But who cares? It works with Elder!

At the album's climax is the nearly 16-minute long "Lore", which shares its title with the album itself. This song has a lot to digest in it, and it's worth repeating to make sure you get everything and forget nothing. The first half plays as perfectly as the other songs, but there's a distinct movement change at around eight minutes in that opens your eyes. It's a gradual lead into the best instrumental section of the album. It gave me chills listening to it the first time. It was when Elder cemented themselves as one of the great stoner metal bands in my mind. You'll know it when you hear it.

At the end is "Spirit of Aphelion", which starts with a gradual buildup of acoustic guitars and light drumming, finishing with a crescendo to the main riff of the song. Another perfect ten minute journey, and the best way to complete an album as amazing as this.

The thing you'll definitely notice over time is how each song progresses. "Dead Roots Stirring" is full of fun, repetitious riffs that you hope never end. It's great. But with "Lore", the long instrumental sections feel far less improvised. You can tell they're going somewhere. They definitely put a lot of work into each song because everything flows and moves together gradually and perfectly. Nothing is to sudden, but nothing is unnoticeable.

Edler exceeded everyone's expectations with "Lore". They're one of few bands who are able to do that. If this doesn't put a huge spotlight on them in the metal world, I don't know what will.